THE PEOPLE’S RIGHTS
(Cohen A31) (Woods A16)
The People’s Rights is part of a trilogy encompassing Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George’s campaign for their Liberal Party agenda in the general election of 1910; the other two volumes being Lloyd George’s The People’s Insurance and The People’s Budget. One wonders if, like Churchill, the gentlemen who then ran Hodder & Stoughton, their publishers, were considered “traitors to their class” and ostracized from all the proper clubs and watering holes. Hodder & Stoughton, which had earlier published a cheap edition of Savrola, dished out vast quantities of these titles, peddling paperback versions for a mere shilling (25¢). The books did not do Liberalism’s “Terrible Twins” much good. Although Churchill and Lloyd George were reelected, their party lost its majority and was never able to dominate the political arena as it had between 1904 and 1910.
“If you were an English Liberal,” pointed out Alistair Cooke in a 1988 speech given at The Churchill Centre, “1904 through 1910 were very stirring years. Here on the one hand you had the crackling, sarcastic, brilliant Lloyd George; and on the other the witty, devastating Churchill, following each other like a great vaudeville team up and down the country. Churchill at one point even spent a week on the road begging—pleading—for the abolition of the House of Lords: ‘This second chamber as it is, one-sided, hereditary, unpurged, unrepresentative, irresponsible, absentee.’ (It is still there, though shorn of all power.)”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“Less than a week after publication of Liberalism and the Social Problem, Prime Minister Asquith dissolved Parliament following rejection of the Liberal Government’s budget by the Conservative-dominated House of Lords. Churchill, President of the Board of Trade, immediately hit the campaign trail with a series of stirring speeches, given during the period 3-11 December 1909. The People’s Rights is a distillation of these nine days of speeches. Quite unlike his other writings, it follows a textbook or outline form: six chapters, broken down into short paragraphs, headlined in bold face by a statement or rhetorical question. Although this format is effective, it was probably used for speed: a letter to Churchill by the chairman of Hodder & Stoughton, written 16 December, indicates that the printers had already received the text and had suggested deletions of repetitious matter!
“The book opens with Churchill’s famous criticism of the House of Lords and continues with a plea for a balanced budget. (His arguments are not unfamiliar.) The cases for Free Trade, a graduated income tax, luxury tax and surtaxes on unearned income, also familiar topics today, are also deftly argued. Churchill shows a paternalistic but genuine concern for improving the lot of the working classes but remains clear that this must be accomplished under Parliamentary systems (excluding the House of Lords). Socialism is mentioned only once, and abruptly dismissed; trade unions and labour are not mentioned at all. Clearly, he felt that a government-operated system of ‘labour exchanges’ along with the Liberal programmes being advocated, would adequately improve the lot of the masses without more radical reforms.
“The result of the political campaign was a two-seat majority for the Liberals, whose budget was passed by the House (with the help of Labour and the Irish Nationalists) in April 1910. The Lords, who had been threatened with the promotion of enough Liberal peers to carry the budget, assented. The Parliament Act, reducing the power of the Lords, and the National Insurance Act, were passed a year later. Despite these victories the seeds of discontent had been sown. The long descent of the Liberal Party coupled with the rise of the Labour Party had begun. The People’s Rights remains as evidence of Churchill’s contribution in this great turning point in British history.”
-John P. Nixon, Jr. in Finest Hour 56, Summer 1987
The People’s Rights is the third rarest Churchill book, after Mr. Brodrick’s Army and For Free Trade. The scarcity of copies is owed to the fact that this was, in essence, a political pamphlet and addressed issues that were as ephemeral as the paper it was printed on; therefore, most copies were discarded. Indeed, most lists of Churchill’s works in his later books omit any mention of The People’s Rights.
Of all Churchill first editions, this is the one most in need of deacidification. Both hardbound and wrapper copies were printed on cheap, pulpy, acidic paper, which is fast deteriorating, and the pages are somewhat browned even on the best of copies. The worst are becoming brittle and are starting to crack and dissolve.
As a result of scarcity and fragility, prices are formidable. Hardbound copies have sold recently for five figure prices and near-fine wrapper copies are also very desirable.
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First Edition, First State
Cohen A31.1.a /ICS A16aa
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, c.1909
Hardbound: Burgundy cloth blocked gilt with title and author’s name on front cover and spine, and publisher’s imprint on spine bottom. Softbound: Yellow-orange paper printed black and green with halftone photograph of the author on the cover and the same imprints on the spine plus the price (“1/- NET”). Inside front wrapper bears a boxed advertisement for other political works by Dr. T. J. Macnamara and Churchill. Both versions 16mo, 160 pages numbered (i-viii) and 1-152. Pages 149-52 contain an index.
Quantities and Impressions
Bibliographer Frederick Woods states that 5000 copies were published “on the week ending 14 January 1910, price 1s” Presumably, the price refers to the wrapper copy. There were no subsequent impressions, although there was a second state (see below), which may increase the actual quantity produced.
Dust Jackets and Variants
No dust jackets to the hardbound version have been observed. In his bibliography, Ronald Cohen conjectures that the jacket for this edition was simply unprinted glassine.
Several variants of the wrapper edition are known in which the type used for Hodder & Stoughton’s imprint at the bottom of the front wrap is reduced and the space gained occupied by the imprints of various newspapers, including but not necessarily limited to the Daily News (London and Manchester), the Yorkshire Observer and the Liverpool Post and Mercury. The Daily News and the Yorkshire Observer, at least, carry their names in their distinct title script. The latter is called The Yorkshire Observer EDITION, but this word is absent on The Daily News version.
Woods’s description of the hardbound copy (“cherry-red cloth, flecked with pink”) is erroneous; he must have inspected a worn-infested or faded copy, which can appear this way. Woods is also incorrect in his description of page [viii], which acknowledges the Liverpool Post and Mercury and the Bolton Journal and Guardian, as well as the Manchester Guardian, for granting permission to print extracts. The Bolton paper may have been among the newspapers that had their imprints on certain wrapper copies (see variants above).
The two Lloyd George companion works, The People’s Budget and The People’s Insurance, were bound of the same material; softbound versions of The People’s Budget were printed red and black on the same orange-yellow paper. We have not examined a softbound People’s Insurance.
First Edition, Second State
Cohen A31.1.b / ICS A16ab
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1910
In the second state (mentioned by Woods, page 45), the index on pages 149-52 was replaced by a second Appendix (“Labour Exchanges and Unemployment Insurance”). This state has never been observed in a hardbound version. Among wrapper copies, there is little difference. Aesthetically, between the two, and no difference in value, for all 1910 copies are so rare that collectors lacking The People’s Rights rarely hesitate when they find, and can afford, a copy.
First General Wrapper’s Issue
Cohen 31.2.a & .b
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1910
The content of the wrapper issue is identical to that of the cased issue, save for the fact that there are two general wrappers issues and a first and second state of the first issue. The first issue includes both an Appendix and Index whereas in the second general wrappers issue (A31.3) the Index is replaced by a second Appendix. (Both states are pictured right.)
Cohen A31.9 / ICS A16ba
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, London, 1970
This handsomely produced hardbound edition includes both appendices, the original index and a new introduction by Cameron Hazlehurst, a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. Entirely reset, it contains 192 pages bound in brown cloth blocked gilt on the spine, and a handsome dust jacket based on the original wrappers, printed sepia, red and orange. It is now fairly uncommon.
Second Edition, American Issue
Cohen A31.10 / ICS A16bb
Publisher: Taplinger Publishing Co. Inc., New York, 1971
The only edition ever to appear outside England, the Taplinger issue is identical to the Cape Edition save for the company’s imprint on jacket, spine and title page. It was published on 3 March 1971 at $6.50, according to a reviewer copy slip. It sells for about the same prices as the Cape Edition.
Combined Issue from the “Collected Works”
Collectors should be aware of this product copies created from of leftover sheets from Volume VII of the Library of Imperial History’s 1974-75 “Collected Works.,” Bound in burgundy cloth blocked gilt on the cover and spine aftermarket sellers, they have been offered by aftermarket sellers.and This work is entitled (cover and title page): MR | BRODRICK’S | ARMY AND OTHER EARLY SPEECHES | FOR FREE TRADE | LIBERALISM AND THE SOCIAL PROBLEM | THE PEOPLE’S RIGHTS | INDIA appears on the cover and title page. Somewhat misleadingly, tThe spine reads, somewhat misleadingly, FIVE EARLY SPEECHES with the author’s name WINSTON S. CHURCHILL. The spines on lLater bindings may read simply EARLY SPEECHES. The text of all five works was entirely reset and the 516 pages and (516 plus introductory matter) are numbered consecutively.
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